Recordkeeping Tips from a Safety Law Attorney

Some really good information from this Webinar!

OSHA recordkeeping requirements can be difficult to navigate. Here’s some help on two key issues from an attorney who specializes in safety law.
In a recent BLR webinar entitled “Safety Recordkeeping: Maintaining Records that Pass Inspection andBuild Strong Safety Culture,” Adele L Abrams, Esq., CMSP, of the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC, discussed several key issues concerning employers‘ responsibilities under OSHA recordkeeping regulations, including the meaning of “work-related” and the right way to compute lost workdays.Meaning of ‘Work-Related’

An injury or illness must be work-related to be covered under OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR 1904). That is, a causal connection must exist between the employment and the injury of illness for a case to be recordable.

OSHA has concluded that the employer is in the best position to determine work-relatedness, not an M.D. or the OSHA inspector. However, inspectors may second-guess employers, so you might consider erring on the side of caution. Use your best judgment, being aware that the consequences of over-reporting are minimal whereas underreporting can result in citations as well as a negative impression of the workplace on the part of the OSHA inspector.

OSHA considers an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for an injury or illness resulting from events of exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in Section 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies or the employer can prove it is a pre-existing condition and nothing in the workplace aggravated it.

Note that the work event or exposure can be only one of a number of discernible causes of the injury or illness; it does not have to be the sole or predominant cause.

Right Way to Compute Lost Workdays

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping rules, employers are responsible for computing lost workdays if an employee is out of work for an extended period of time due to a work-related injury or illness.

You must enter an estimate of the number of days the employee will be away from work and update the count when the actual number of days away are known. The count starts on the day following the day the injury or illness occurred. Note that you must enter the number of days away the physician or healthcare provider recommends, even if the employee does not follow the recommendation.

The count includes the number of calendar days the employee was unable to work as a result of the injury or illness, regardless of whether or not the employee was scheduled to work on those days. Weekend days, holidays, vacations days, and other days off are included in the total number of days recorded. The total days away from work caps at 180 days.

If the employer leaves the employing company for a reason unrelated to the injury of illness (for example, retirement, plant closing, or another job), the count of days away from work or days of restriction or job transfer stops.

“Restricted work” occurs as a result of a work-related injury or illness if:

  • You keep the employee from performing one or more of the routine functions of his or her job, or from working the full workday he or she would otherwise have been scheduled to work; or
  • A physician or other licensed healthcare professional recommends that the employee not perform one or more of the routine functions of his or her job, or not work the entire scheduled workday.

A recommended work restriction is recordable only if it affects one or more of the employee’s routine job functions.

Tomorrow, Attorney Abrams will explain the difference between “medical treatment” and “first aid” under the recordkeeping standard

In a webinar entitled “Safety Recordkeeping: Maintaining Records that Pass Inspection and Build Strong Safety Culture,” Adele L Abrams, Esq., CMSP, of the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC, discussed several key issues concerning employers’ responsibilities under OSHA recordkeeping regulations, including the difference between “medical treatment” and “first aid.”

“Medical treatment” means the management and care of a patient to combat a disease or disorder.

For the purposes of Part 1904, medical treatment does not include:

  • Visits to a physician or other licensed health car professional solely for observation or counseling; or
  • The conduct of diagnostic procedures, such as x-rays and blood tests, including the administration of prescription medications used solely for diagnostic purposes (for example, eye drops to dilate pupils); or
  • First aid.

“First aid” includes:

  • Using a non-prescription medication at nonprescription strength;
  • Administering tetanus immunizations. (Hepatitis B vaccine and rabies vaccine are considered medical treatment.);
  • Cleaning, flushing, or soaking a wound on the surface of the skin;
  • Using wound coverings such as bandages, gauze pads, butterfly bandages or Steri-StripsTM;
  • Using hot or cold therapy;
  • Using any non-rigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps, or non-rigid back belts, etc.;
  • Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim;
  • Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure or draining fluid from a blister;
  • Using eye patches;
  • Removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab;
  • Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs, or other simple means;
  • Using finger guards;
  • Using massages (but physical therapy and chiropractic treatment are considered medical treatment.); and
  • Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.

Courtesy of BLR

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